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Tokyo on a budget – your one stop shop.

Shinjuku, Tokyo

Everyone has a stereotype of Japan and Tokyo in particular that it is so expensive, but in this article I will tell you how to explore Tokyo on a budget.

The best time for traveling to Tokyo.

Traveling on vacation can be a great idea if you can get great deals. And to get a good offer, you need to plan your holidays away from the seasons of the country you plan to travel. For us, the best time to travel is Golden Week (late April – early May) and (mid-August).

Is public transportation the best way to go around Tokyo?

The easiest way to get to the city from the airport is the Narita Express (costs about $30) or the Keisei bus company (costs about $14). For traveling around the city, consider getting an IC card for paid transport, It offers a couple of yen per trip compared to one-way tickets. It can be filled at any metro station and save a lot of time by avoiding tracking the areas and being charged for every trip.

Renting a bike is a great benefit for saving money while moving around the city. Some companies charge roughly $3 for a full-day trip. Unless you like to walk, then you will spend nothing and have the chance to explore the true Tokyo.

If you plan to visit outside the city, consider long-distance buses, rather than trains. Even though the trip lasts longer than the train, it will save you thousands of yen.

Hello Kitty bus

The best places to stay if you travel to Tokyo on a budget. 

You have probably heard about Capsule hotels like Nine hours Shinjuku-North hotel. It costs $15 – $30 a night. Manga hotels where you can read any number of comics. They are normally equipped with cabins, showers, sleeping mats and unlimited internet access from $15 per night.

Make sure to enjoy most of the Japanese-style hotels called Ryokan in the Japanese language. Ryokan Looks like the Japanese houses we see in the films has a full carpet, a large mixed bath, and Japanese style meals with seasonal ingredients. Ryokan is a great place to discover Japanese culture on a budget. Prices start at $50 for a double room and Ryokan’s best known hotels are Andon Ryokan and Ryokan Sawanoya.

Airbnb remains a great option if you can’t get a chance to try Ryokan. Airbnb rates are as low as $40 per night for the room.

Hakone Airu Ryokan

The best restaurants to try in Tokyo.

Try Japan’s most popular food called Ramen. There are plenty of ramen stores across the city, with the two most popular chains being Ichiran and Ramen Jiro. This is a totally different experience when you do not have to interact with someone to order your meal. But you pay through the ATM and you get the ramen out of the ticket you got from the ATM. Menu prices start from $5.

Ramen

As an alternative, you can try Konbini – traditional Japanese stores. These are little stores that you can find on every Japanese street. I can tell they’re like 7eleven, Family Mart, Lawson.

They usually set meals known as Benton – a typical Japanese takeout lunch box. They often include rice, fish, meat and soup for a very low price. There you can also find Onigiri – snack rice ball coated with seaweed, sushi, wagashi – traditional Japanese candies.

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Convenience shops at Tokyo Station. 

Bakeries at the train station are the best places for quick and cheap food of excellent quality. They offer a wide variety of breads from traditional Japanese bread to the classic bakery like croissants, beans, baguettes.

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Be sure to check out the Conveyor Belt sushi chains.

These are Japanese restaurants which serve food on a quick walk.  Your bill depends on how many items you take on the conveyor and the prices are charged with the color of the plate.

Sushi belt

Where can I get a low-cost lunch in Tokyo?

This is our tip to get a cheap lunch if you’re travelling to Tokyo on a budget. It is common practice for the same Japanese restaurants to have an offer of lunch for $10, this is the cheapest way to discover authentic Japanese cuisine.

Which places should I visit in Tokyo?

When we say Tokyo on a budget, we should split that fresh news. Tokyo has countless places to visit free of charge. Age-free temples such as Senso-Ji in Asakusa or Meiji Temple are ones of many free temples in Japan.  Nakamise Street to go shopping where you can get local souvenirs and snacks, and is a must-see tourist attraction that will cost you nothing.

Senso-ji Temple

If you want to get away from the chaos, visit one of the many gardens and parks in Tokyo. Enjoy the exceptional scenery of Japanese nature. You can visit all the following gardens for free. Yoyogi Park, Ueno Park, Inokashira Park in western Tokyo, Showa Kinen Park, and Imperial Palace East Garden (open to the public) with its famous bridges and views of the medieval castle.

Don’t miss the Shibuya crossing ‘the busiest crossing in the world’ surrounded by neon lights and massive ads shown in a video about Japan. It’s the place where you can see thousands of people running from every direction across the road.

Shibuya Crossing

Don’t miss the Shibuya crossing ‘the busiest crossing in the world’ surrounded by neon lights and massive ads shown in a video about Japan. It’s the place where you can see thousands of people running from every direction across the road.

Enjoy one of the free galleries in the most luxurious shopping streets of Ginza.  Like Shulado Gallery with its traditional Japanese art and Shibata Etsuko Gallery with its botanical garden.

Visit the cutest neighborhood «Harajuku». It has hundreds of Japanese fashion stores lit with neon lights, funky designs and candy stores. You can find everything from the hedgehog coffee shop (where with your coffee you can hedgehog animals) to the mushroom disco in the Kawaii Monster Caffe.

Hedgehog Cafe Harry

Wake up early and visit the fish market of Tosukiji, it is totally free. You may also like Akinabara and Tokyo Anime Center. This area is full of e-shops, cafes and cosplay entertainment. Learn how to make origami at the Origami Kaikan Centre.

Visit Toyota’s public showroom, where you can test prototypes from the car maker. You can also visit the Mitsubishi Electric showroom at Tokyo Plaza at Ginza. Discover the latest technologies, especially robots in innovative collaboration with artists.

How to go shopping when travelling in Tokyo on a budget?

If you are looking for budget souvenirs, try Hyaku-in (100) stores, where all items have a cost of $1. In addition, one of the largest chains to visit is Daiso. Try one of the many flea markets, where you can find genuine gems, such as ancient tea sets, Kimonos, or Samurai equipment. I would recommend Ohi Racecourse. This is one of Japan’s best flea markets, which takes place weekly.

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